MIT biological engineering, materials science and energy researcher Angela Belcher takes her cues from nature to create amazing things. Among her portfolio of important work, she has created batteries powered by a combination of biological and inorganic components. Her team has selected viruses that can grab onto carbon nanotubes to grow electrodes in solution. When dried out and refined, these nanotube-coated viruses are turned into batteries that can power small electronics.
She won the university’s 2013 Lemelson-MIT Prize for harnessing nature to design environmentally friendly solar cells, clean transportation fuel and viral batteries. There is still much more work to do, but Belcher says she hopes to one day drive around in a virus-powered electric car.
Check out her 2011 TED talk below.
Before every contraction, the potential energy trapped in chemical bonds within cardiac muscle cells is released and converted into the mechanical power of the heartbeat. But, like all energy, that which is harnessed to power the heart is never destroyed; it just changes form as it radiates away from the organ as heat and vibrations of surrounding tissue and fluid.
Now, a science team has announced a breakthrough in harvesting the energy released from the movement of the beating heart, the breathing lung and the flexing diaphragm. They’ve developed a superthin device that can be attached to an organ to generate electricity from its movements.